19 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Bonus!

I mentioned back in the commentary for Chapter 7 that a chapter went missing.  It turned out that the chapter and some of its follow up worked better in the unpublished first arc.  However, since some key elements of the series appear in it, I'm posting it here as bonus content.  Some edits have been made because of ideas that wound up needing fixed.

18 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 13

Old Man Peterson revealed, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 13.

All mysteries must have an end, one where the villain has been found.  There wasn't any way for me to continue this arc.  Everyone had a chance at the spotlight.  Clues were found.  It was time for the final act, time for the Phantom to be unmasked.

First, though, the Paranormalists had to go through a show of exorcising the spirits Ginger already got rid of in Chapter 10.  The display was more for Alex and his boss, to show that the Paranormalists aren't just taking money and to hide that they've broken into the warehouse a few times.  It helps that there were spirits to banish.  The "ritual" just plays into what is expected of a banishment, thanks to shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural.  Salt is traditional; in the past, it was rare and restricted to the upper class.  Today, it's easil;y found in grocery stores and gets into everything.

That leaves the Phantom of the Warehouse.  What sort of mystery story would leave the mystery unsolved?  It's not satisfying, even if the Paranormalists aren't licensed as private investigators.  The clues were there, though not all at once.  I hadn't worked out the identity of the Phantom until late in the writing.  A few things that I did have, though, helped.  First, the explosion in Chapter 9.  There was sound, but little damage.  More than flash bangs, but still pyrotechnics.  That was where I had the idea of the nature of who.  Kieu's discovery of the nature of low-light recording in Chapter 12.helped confirm that the Phantom was mundane, not supernatural.

Of course, knowing the clues was just part of it.  I still needed a motive.  All sorts of valuables pass through a warehouse.  Problem is, if they go missing, it's easy to see where they disappeared.  Another problem is stealing enough to make the theft worthwhile.  There might be a multi-million dollar shipment, but spread over half a dozen crates that are each too large to be picked up by a person.  Art theft just needs the one work to be taken to be worth something, especially if a buyer is already lined up.  But that's not the full motive.

Art theft is just the crime being done.  The thief still needs a reason to steal.  That was easy.  Thanks to the Police Squad episode "A Bird in the Hand"/"The Butler Did It"*, I had the ultimate reason; "I needed the money."  There's no tale of revenge, no deep dark secret, just someone who needed to make ends meet.

The wrap up let me get a few outstanding issues wrapped up.  The big one is Kieu's attitude towards Ayel.  In the unseen first arc, they did get to a detente of sorts, but Kieu backslid while I wrote "Hauntings Anonymous".  I really need Kieu and Ayel to be able to work together for futre arcs.  The conflict isn't sustainable for an entire series and characters should develop over time.  Since the Paranormalists are doing supernatural investigations as a business, even if it's just on the side, I wanted to make sure that the audience knew they were paid.  And I wanted everyone to come clean on asking Aidan to keep investigating.  Ayel may have started skeptical, but she's in on the business with the others.

There were a few more shout outs in this chapter.  Gregori Hapschatt finishes off the references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, after Brad, Janet, and the Munroes last chapter.  Constable Frasier comes from Due South; I'm not using the same character, but the shout out is there.  Besides, I didn't include Benton Frasier's dog/wolf, Diefenbaker.  My other option at the time of writing was to reference The Beachcombers, with Constable John Constable.

I do have future arcs in mind for the series.  The next one has been started but stalled out.  The core idea is to get into the supernatural and paranormal more, with the Paranormalists being called in because of a spriggan invasion of a cottage.  I also plan on bringing in some of Kristi's family, so she, too, can be tortured by someone she can't ignore.  One for later involves a haunting at a doll convention.  I want to have Ginger out in view of the public instead of always hiding, and by disguising her as a doll, though a really life-like one, the LOLfae will get to see what's around her.

Coming up in the next few weeks, one final commentary about the full "Hauntings Anonymous", including items I glossed over or outright missed followed by a new serial, though one that's incomplete.  NaNoWriMo starts soon, so there will be juggling involved.

Friday, bonus content for dba LTV Paranormalists.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, adaptations of adaptations.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Dresden Files RPG.

* Police Squad episodes always had two titles, one on screen and one spoken by the narrator.  The titles never matched, and in the case of "A Bird in Hand"/The Butler Did It", includes a spoiler of who the thief is.

12 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 13

The Phanton Unmasked

"I'm already looking into the warehouse."
"And don't tell Ayel what you're doing, okay?"
"A partnership that has an employee who has a security license."
"Kristi likes photos of beds in dim light?"
Monday afternoon
Ayel jumped out of the van as soon as it stopped moving in the warehouse's parking lot.  She dashed to join Kristi and Kieu at the main entrance.  "I got your message.  What's up?"

"You got me," Kristi said.  "Aidan asked me to round everyone up.  Did you get the report done for Mr. Morton?"

"Right here."  Ayel pulled a manila envelope out from under her jacket.  "Feels wrong to just say that the carving's clean now without saying how."

"Got you covered."  Kristi opened her shoulder bag.  A tiny hand pushed up a box of table salt.  "Ginger!  I told you to stay behind."

Ginger's head poked up from the bag.  "I wanted to see."

Kristi rubbed her forehead.  "Don't let anyone else see you, okay?  It's going to be difficult enough selling what we're about to do without having to explain a fae in my purse."

Kieu knelt down to face Ginger.  "Having fun yet?"

Ginger giggled.  "Hiding's fun for a bit, then it gets boring."

"Well, don't get too bored, okay?"  Kieu stood back up.  "What's with the salt?"

"It works on Supernatural."  Kristi shrugged.  "I'll sprinkle some in the carvings' crate, say something about the purity of the crystals, and take credit for all of Ginger's hard work.  Ginger, I will get you a special coffee when we're done here."

Ayel slipped the envelope back in her jacket.  "Let's go see Alex, then."

Kristi stepped in front of the blonde woman, blocking her way to the entrance.  "Aidan asked to be here, too."  The tawny-haired woman pointed at the street and a red hatchback approaching.  "I think that's him."

The hatchback turned into the warehouse's parking lot and coasted to a stop.  Aidan got out of the car and waved to the women.  "Have you talked to anyone inside yet?"

Kristi walked over to the slim man.  "Not yet.  What's up?"  She tilted her head in Ayel's direction.  "Is this what we talked about yesterday?"

Aidan held up several pages of printed paper.  "Everything is detailed here."  He gave a sheet of paper to Kristi.  "One for everyone."

11 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 12

The last pieces have fell into place, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 12.

It was time to separate the cast again.  Families exist.  They get worried when the young adults don't make appearances.  So, Ayel and Kieu go home again.  Kristi, coming from a different and far more isolated town, doesn't have the problem.  The commute to Moose Factory is a little harsh.  I do plan on having some of Kristi's family show up next arc.

Kieu has an annoying superpower - she is comfortable for small animals and fae to sleep on.  Worse, Kieu tends to not notice while she's asleep.  Ginger is basically a cat on two legs.  I wasn't planning on going that way, but the LOLfae just went that direction.  So, she'll sleep wherever she likes, can get her nose out of joint over a perceived insult, and will perk up on the mention of treats, in Ginger's case, coffee.  If it works, it works.

Ayel's sister Tiffany reappears, this time a little brattier, trying to foist off Benedict Flyffybutt.  The morning chaos strikes, though not as bad as it could be on a workday.  Four people all trying to get ready for work/school?  Yeah, traffic control is needed.  On a Sunday morning, it's not as bad.  This is the first Ayel's parents have heard of her side job.  Janet wants her daughter to be safe.  Having an employee licensed to carry a handgun doesn't inspire confidence.  Brad is missing details, so his wife is getting Ayel to fill them in.  And, yes, I named Ayel's parents after Bran and Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Brad was the last to be named and I resisted as long as possible, but I reached a point where I had to name him.  And once that door opened, of course they're about to go out with the Munroes.  The Hapschatts appear next chapter.

Since I've mentioned Tiffany, Ayel's middle name was originally going to be that.  Except, when I needed to name her sister, Tiffany worked better there.  I haven't used Ayel's middle name, or, really, her proper name at all in this chapter, so it's not an issue yet.  At some point, though, I'll have to figure it out.  Ayel gets her nickname from the initials of her hyphenated given name, A. L.  She really doesn't like her proper name.

Kieu finally gets home after her date.  Her parents are so used to her disappearing that they call the police when she does show up at home two days in a row.  And don't ask where Kieu not wearing panties during her date came from.  I'm not sure if she was being sarcastic or being truthful.  Kieu isn't like Mara.  Your guess is as good as mine right now.

Mysteries do eventually need to be solved.  I now know who and have an idea of why, but that still means the clues need to be collected.  Each character has an area of expertise - Kristi and art, Ayel and business, Kieu and technology - so each one has a way to dig for information.  Kieu's affinity for technology helps get that one last clue I needed to point at the right person.

Friday, revealing Old Man Peterson, in Hauntings Anonymous Chapter 13, "The Phantom Unmasked".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Robocop the Animated Series.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, adaptations of adaptations.

5 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 12

Discrete Investigation

"And they're both alive."
"I'm sure we can find the fake ghost."
"Looks harmless enough."
"Getting drunk seems like a good idea right now."
Sunday morning
Kristi yawned as she made her way downstairs, her bare feet taking the steps one at a time to avoiud making any noise that could wake up her roomies or her guest.  She reached the bottom of the stairs and started creeping towards the kitchen.  The tawny-haired woman froze on hearing Kieu stir.

"Hello?" Kieu said, her voice soft.

"It's just me," Kristi said.  "You can go back to sleep."

"Kristi, I can't move my arm.  Something's wrong with it."

Hurrying, Kristi reached the faded couch.  "Can you wriggle your fingers?"

After a moment, Kieu answered, "I can.  I can also feel the blanket.  I can't move my arm.  It's too heavy."

Kristi peered at Kieu, only seeing her friend's head, the rest of her body covered by a grey blanket.  "I'll take your covers off so I can see what's going on."  With deliberate care, Kristi rolled the blanket back past Kieu's shoulders.  She stopped on seeing Ginger's nude form draped over Kieu's arm.  "I found the problem.  It's not you."

4 Oct 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Commentary 11

Skirting the edge of a business license, in dba LTV Paranormalists Chapter 11.

There are times when constraints work against the core idea.  My constraint was that, unlike Scooby-Doo, my paranormal investigators are doing this as a job.  They have limits, mostly so that they don't need two years of PI and Security at Algonquin before the story begins.  That's a different story, one that someone else can tell for now.  The problem right now in the story is that they are about to cross over into actual mundane investigation work.  Sure, Scooby and the gang did that, but they pulled in the police before the unmasking, and they were off in less populated parts than a major city.  But the story can't end with the investigation dangling; it's not a satisfying ending.  Even that characters are complaining that they can't finish what they started.

Fortunately, I gave myself an out.  I figured I'd run into this situation.  Thus, Aiden.  He's my safety valve.  He can step in for the more mundane aspects.  That way, if the police get miffed, Aidan can show his license.  I may have to throw that in in a future arc, but for now, I have a saving throw.  He's there to give cover for the rest.  After all, students do know how to research.  They can dig into all sorts of files that they have access to.  Aiden, though, can use his license to get to more restricted files without having to answer awkward questions.

The death near the night club and Kieu's pink-out are related.  In the first arc, where the Paranormalists find Ginger, Kieu tastes purple when the LOLfae uses her magic.  The next arc will go into the connection more, but there is a link between Kieu's unusual relationship with colours and magic.  Sean and Jared did get home safe; it was a minor point but still out there.

The original concept of the LTV Paranormalists was that Kristi partially convinced Ayel to join her in the venture.  That more or less happened, but Ayel was meant to be the skeptic.  It's hard to remain skeptical when you meet a real fae.  Ginger is very much proof that the paranormal and supernatural exist.  Whether other legends are real is another matter, but Ayel can't continue to be a skeptic.  So, the character evolves.  Ayel is going through a paradigm shift, one that expands her knowledge of the world.  She just needed someone to talk to who wouldn't think she's crazy.

Friday, family time, in Hauntings Anonymous Chapter 12, "Discrete Investigation".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, animated adaptations.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Robocop the Animated Series.

28 Sep 2018

dba LTV Paranormalists - Hauntings Anonymous - Chapter 11

Back Into the Warehouse

"I has a buzz."
"Happy Ginger is happy."
"I is a magicks!"
"You.  Are.  Not.  Needed!  Go.  AWAY!"
Saturday night
At the coffee shop, Ayel sat down, giving her feet a brief respite after the after-dinner rush.  She massaged the her calves, working out a tenseness she could feel growing.  Tabbie set down a tub of dishes and sat beside the blonde woman.  Ayel managed a smile for her co-worker.  "I'll get those," she offered.

"Sit.  Take your break already.  I've got these."

Ayel's smile grew genuine.  "Thanks, Tabbie."

"No problem.  Hey, where did your friends go clubbing last night?"

"Glamour Blue.  Why?  Want to head there after work and enjoy the rest of the evening?"

"You hadn't heard?